Wednesday, March 9, 2016

NASW: Social Workers in Government Agencies

In 2011, the NASW Center for Workforce Studies and Social Work Practice released the occupational profile, Social Workers in Government Agencies.

Social workers are key employees in federal, state, and local government agencies. Social workers may work on-site at a government agency; at a non-governmental agency whose client base is generated from their relationship with a government agency; or in a contracting relationship as independent consultants. The range of government settings in which social workers practice include: agencies serving children and families; health care settings; schools; federal, state or local correctional facilities; nursing homes and agencies in aging; and agencies serving military veterans and active duty military personnel. In the federal government, the larger employer of social workers include the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice; and Department of Health and Human Services.

The occupational profile is very comprehensive. However, my biggest complaint with this document is that it overlooks social workers in macro-level roles such as policy analyst, program specialist, or public health educator. A growing number of social workers have non-clinical job titles. For example, becoming a Presidential Management Fellow is one way to launch a macro social worker career in the federal government. Greater awareness of social workers pursuing careers in policy and program evaluation is necessary so that students who are interested in politics or public policy know their options.

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